Ever pray for rain?
I was talking recently with a farmer friend who is a part-time Florida resident, but returns to his home in Illinois in the spring and summer to run his farm there. During the course of our brief conversation, this fellow asked me to pray for rain for his farm.
Years ago, when we were located in a Kansas farming town, the (there was only one!) gas station owner in the town used to laugh about the farmers complaining about no rain.
He said, “They come in here and complain about not getting rain in June, and I tell ‘em to quit complaining, ‘cause come August they’ll be crying again, only then it will be because they’ve got too much rain!”
Having lived in Florida for a year and a half, there have already been drought conditions in these parts, but generally it rains for a brief time almost every day, especially during the summer (dare I mention “hurricane”) season.
But have you ever considered praying for rain? Oftentimes, we talk about it not raining, and we talk about praying for rain, but do we seriously pray? I suspect not… And I am convinced it is because we are not so convinced that God cares about us in that way…
In the International Religious Report, dated March 4, 1996, the following account was reported:
“A missionary’s prayer for rain in Thailand saved a village’s harvest and convinced its people to become Christians. In Kalasin province, 134 families became Christians when native missionary Lun Poobuanak and his church prayed for rain. Poobuanak was holding services with this small congregation when the village leaders interrupted. ‘If you ask your God to give us rain this month, all households in our clan will worship your God and become Christians,’ said the leader. Skeptical at first, Poobuanak told them they could not `play games with the living God.’ But the leader repeated his vow and said, `If we do not, your God can send judgment on us.’ The Christians immediately began to fast and pray.
“On the fourth day a storm came that filled the rice fields and saved their crops. The rain was so intense that ‘the villagers admitted that Jesus is the true and living God,’ Poobuanak said. All the households in the village were converted and the word has spread to many of the surrounding districts. ‘This is a living testimony that helps us win souls easily in this area,’ Poobuanak said.’”
Now that’s a story of answered prayer.
We see the same sort of thing in the Bible – in fact, in 1 Kings 18, we see Elijah the prophet doing much the same thing.
Earlier, he had prayed – in obedience to God, I might add – that it would not rain on the land, as a sign of God’s judgment on the land for the sins of the people. In response to that prayer, God withheld the rain for a year and a half! That’s 18 months without a drop! Even the very stream that flowed by Elijah’s home and provided water for him to live on – that very brook dried up too!
And when the time was just right, God told Elijah to pray for rain. He did, and in the last part of that chapter, we see the story of how God answered, In v. 41, we read that Elijah proclaimed that he heard “the sound of a heavy rain!” Now, it hasn’t rained for 18 months, and all of a sudden out of the blue, Elijah hears the sound of a heavy (not just a light spring shower!) rain! He really had the EARS of faith as well as the EYES of faith!
Over the next several verses, we see the story progress from “There is nothing there” (v. 43) to a small cloud (v. 44) to “a heavy rain” (v. 45)! All because one man prayed! A man “just like us,” James says (compare James 5:17-18).
There was a small farming community in Ohio that was in the middle of a long dry season and the farmers were very concerned about the effect that no rain was having on their crops.
So, in their own situation, they asked the local pastor to have a service which was specifically for the congregation to pray for rain. The pastor agreed and publicly invited the entire community to join him on Sunday afternoon for a community-wide prayer service for the expressed purpose of praying for rain.
On the appointed day, people came from miles around to join together in prayer for rain. The church sanctuary was packed. The pastor stood to welcome the folks who had come and he stated the purpose of the meeting was to pray specifically for rain.
But then before doing anything which was geared toward prayer, the pastor expressed this rather pointed rebuke: “We have joined here this afternoon for the explicit purpose of praying for rain, yet, I am convinced none of us really believe that God will answer our prayers. The reason I can confidently say that is that I stood at the door as most of you entered this sacred place, and made a very significant observation: Out of all of you who came here today, only one person — and that a small girl sitting here I the third row — brought an umbrella!”
The point is: God answers the prayers of people who love God and come to Him and BELIEVE He will answer prayer, depending upon Him for the answers to the questions and issues of life. So rather than allow yourself to think that YOU have accomplished “it” (whatever “it” may be – it doesn’t have to be praying for rain), why don’t you just admit the truth and declare your DEPENDENCE on God!
Then just sit back, and watch Him work!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.